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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

4/0                        SLEEP   OF   THE   DORMOUSE                       CHAP.
(5)   G-eomyidae, Pouched Rats.
(6)  Heteromyidae, Kangaroo Rats.
(*7)  Dipodidae, Jerboas.
(8)  Pedetidae.
The Gliridae have no caecum, so usual in the Rodentia. It
is true that all the genera have not been dissected, but it is
known that in the true Dormice, as well as in the genus
Platacanthomys, a caecum is absent.
Apart from these few exceptions the Mouse-like Rodents all
possess a caecum, though it is often not very large. They are
all smallish animals, and are modified to a great variety of habit
and habitat. There are burrowing, swimming, and climbing
forms. The group is universal in range, even including the
Australian region, in which they are the only Rodents.
Fam. 1. CHiridae.—This family, also called Myoxidae,1 includes
the Dormice, and is entirely an Old-World family, absent only
from the [Malagasy region. Its most important differential
character is the total absence of the caecum and of any sharp
boundary between the small and large intestine. The molars are
usually four. The eyes and ears are well developed.
The genus Muscardinus includes only the Common Dormouse,
M~ arella-narius. This small creature, 3 inches long with a tail
of 2^- inches, is, of course, a well-known inhabitant of this
country. It is also found all over Europe. It is not particularly
abundant in this country, and a good specimen, is said to be
worth half a guinea. As the specific name denotes, it lives
largely on hazel nuts; but it will also suck eggs and devour
insects. The animal makes a " nest " in the form of a hollow
ball. Its hibernation is well known, and has also given rise to
the German name (" Sehlafer w) of the group. It was well known
to Aristotle, who gave or adopted the name *EXe*o9 for the
animal. Its winter sleep—suggestive of death—and its revivifica-
tion iu the spring gave the Bishop of Salamis, Epiphanius, an
argument for the resurrection of man. The fur was reckoned
in Pliny's time a remedy for paralysis and also for disease of
the ears.
The genus Myoxus includes also but a single species, M. glis,
the so-called "Eat Dormouse" of the Continent. It has no
1 Reuvens, "Die Myoxidae oder Schlafer," Leyden, 1890, allows but one genus,
other genera adopted liere being termed subgenera.